Interested in learning about fantasy football for beginners? First of all, you are in the right place. And second, congrats! You’re joining the large family of fantasy sports!
We think you’ve made a fantastic decision, but it can be overwhelming at first.
When I first started playing fantasy, I quickly learned the ruthlessness of the sport [at least in my brother’s league – brothers will be brothers]. I had no idea what I was doing or how to navigate the platform. As you could probably guess, the season was not a positive experience. I am here to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Continue reading for some helpful fantasy football tips for beginners.
Then, once you have the hang of things, be sure to check out our more advanced fantasy football draft strategies to take your game to the next level.
*Any terminology new to you? Here is a glossary to help out.
WHAT IS FANTASY FOOTBALL?
Before we can cover basic fantasy concepts, we should first understand the essence of fantasy. What is Fantasy Football? Well, that is a loaded question. Is it real or is it a game? The answer is…YES!
Fantasy Football is played during the regular NFL season. Usually, the first 13 weeks of the season with weeks 14, 15 and 16 reserved for playoffs. It combines real life football events to a fictional team of your own making. You select real NFL athletes from a player pool to represent your fantasy team. Every yard gained and every touchdown scored by the players you selected provide “fantasy points” for your team.
During the season you’ll make decisions on who to start. The default roster is one quarterback, two running backs, two wide-receivers, one tight end, one team defense [example: Ravens defense] and a kicker. The point sum of all your starting players at the end of the NFL week [Monday night], is compared with one other team in the league. The winner is the team with the highest total.
Please note: your fantasy quarterback does not have to throw an actual touchdown to your fantasy wide-receiver to gain points. Players from any NFL team are on fantasy teams. It merely uses the stats from NFL games to determine your score. Meaning…if a quarterback throws a touchdown in real life, then your fantasy team then scores points.
FANTASY FOOTBALL 101 – GETTING STARTED
CHOOSING THE RIGHT LEAGUE FOR YOU
There are many types of leagues. Some are intensely competitive, others more lighthearted, but they all promote social interaction to a certain degree. You will want to ensure before you sign up that they are the type of league that will fit you best, whether you are super competitive, or just playing for fun.
My worst experience in fantasy wasn’t actually my own, but my wife’s. We joined up with some friends for a redraft league that we thought was easy going, lighthearted and full of inexperienced players. Perfect for a person starting out.
However, a manager’s rude outward critic of my wife’s draft choices led her to a lasting, bitter taste for fantasy. She has not played since. MAJOR TIP – Find the right league for you.
Do these four things before the season starts to get off on the right foot and set yourself up for success, even if you are a complete fantasy football beginner.
1. GET TO KNOW THE PLATFORM
There are many options to host your fantasy league, but if you’re joining an existing league, odds are the commissioner [person in charge] has already selected a platform. Getting to know the platform can be complicated depending on your navigation skills, but once you are comfortable with its function, you’ll be using the app like a pro. Better to figure it out before the season than during the season.
2. FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH PLAYERS
This starts with a quick overview of the NFL. It helps to understand the system before diving into the subculture of fantasy. Every week, 32 teams play against each other. A game plays Thursday night and Monday night. The rest air on Sunday.
There are a lot of positions in football. Fantasy focuses on the players who touch the ball. As with many things in life, the more familiar you are with a topic, the easier it is to recall information. The same is with fantasy players. You will spend less time processing their names when you have seen it multiple times. SO DO WHAT?
3. LEARN YOUR LEAGUE SETTINGS
This is the most basic element to fantasy. How fantasy points are distributed can alter a player’s value. How many people are in your league? Are you playing in a PPR (points per reception), Half PPR, or standard scoring league? Is it a standard starting roster [QB, 2RB, 2WR, TE, DEF and K] or are there differences? Reviewing league settings is good idea to ensure a positive experience.
4. CHOOSE A KILLER NAME
You can name your fantasy team whatever you want. It is your team. However, if the Washington Football Team has taught us anything, names are important. Choose wisely.
Sometimes managers will come up with a name that relates to a player on their team. Here are some of my favorites…..
- Zeke and Destroy
- Josh Jacobs Jingleheimer Schmidt
- Fresh Prince of Helaire
- Davante’s Inferno
- Sorry Ms. Jackson I am for Real
FANTASY DRAFT BASICS
There are several ways to prepare for the draft. On one hand, you have people who have been preparing for the draft since the beginning of the off-season. They’ve read every article and watched every highlight to know the best players. Then you have the casual players who show up to the draft never having completed any research. The truth is that either approach is perfectly fine, and also another important factor in knowing how competitive your league is.
Basic draft preparation includes rankings you trust. Our Draft Kit offers PPR and standard rankings that will make the process easier. If you’d like to take it a step further, listening to podcasts or watching videos are an efficient way to get the highlights and recap of important events.
Lastly, if you are feeling nervous or would like to practice before the draft, there are many “mock drafts” out there that can help you familiarize yourself with the process.
In the end, you decide on the intensity level. Whatever is going to make the process the most enjoyable to you is the best. Fantasy Football is a wonderful game and we’re glad to have you.
It is okay to feel overwhelmed or even a little lost. The first few drafts are a little daunting, especially if you are playing with any experienced managers.
My first draft was a train wreck. I was extremely nervous having never really sat down to draft before. Keeping everything organized proved to be difficult. While simultaneously attempting to read player bios, monitoring the ticking clock, keeping track of the draft order, and making a decision as to who I wanted to draft, I felt overwhelmed. Unfortunately I wasn’t always ready when it was my turn.
I was so overwhelmed I made silly errors, but it was alright. Draft Day doesn’t determine the end of the season. Uncontrollable events happen all the time in football. Players get injured. Starters get benched. The team you draft will not match the team at the end of the season. It is a process. So remember to have fun and don’t let these silly things ruin the excitement.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON DRAFT DAY
Leagues host drafts is many different ways. If you’re a fantasy football beginner you’ll want learn if it is an online draft or live draft and plan accordingly.
If the draft is online you can still gather with friends. That is always the most enjoyable part for me anyways. But the difference is that the computer will keep track of the players selected and often use the platform’s default rankings. A great tool for beginners.
The first part is knowing where your draft spot is in the draft order. A common draft approach is the snake draft. If you pick last in the first round, you’ll pick first in the second. This process continues through the entire draft.
There will also be a list of ranked players for you to choose from. After you select your player, he will be displayed under your team’s roster so you can keep track of your overall team.
Also, each manager has a set amount of time to draft, usually one to two minutes. With online drafting, if you do not select a player when the time ends the “top” ranked player will be selected for you. This is called Auto Drafting. The more intense the league, the more this is frowned upon. But for the casual league, this is perfectly fine.
There are a lot of similarities between online drafts and live drafts, but there are some major differences as well. The first is a focus on manager knowledge. Managers provide their own rankings.
Second, since live drafts do not utilize an online platform as its structure, a draft board is utilized.
The timing system can also be more relaxed. I say can be more relaxed. I am in leagues where there is no timer, but I am also in leagues where there are consequences for not placing the name on the board in time.
HOW TO PLAY FANTASY FOOTBALL DURING THE SEASON
THE WEEKLY ROUTINE
Preseason prep is similar to the prep work you put in when buying a car. You research, compare and read reviews. In keeping with the car metaphor, as you maintain your car to keep it fine tuned and running, you do the same with your fantasy football team during the regular season.
The NFL week begins Tuesday morning and runs through Monday night. It begins with the Wavier Wire.
Players get injured all the time. Many times their back up is not on a fantasy roster which means he is available to add to your team. To make the system fair, an order for selecting players first is established, much like the draft.
Manager’s take turns replacing currently owned players with free agents via the wavier wire. There is no a limit to the number of times this is done in a week. Players also go on waivers if they are dropped later in the week. This give everyone an equal chance to select the free agent.
The goal of each week is to set the best lineup to produce the best outcome possible. People may claim to have it down, but its never simple. Even the best players can come up with a goose egg.
Set the lineup before the start of the game. Alterations cannot be make after kickoff.
After the draft, you may discover an imbalance of positional depth. Trading is a great way to fix this. To trade, one manager sends another manager an offer. The recipient then has the option to accept, decline or counter. The goal is to trade equal assets that benefit each other.
FANTASY FOOTBALL ETIQUETTE
BE ON TIME FOR THE DRAFT – This is especially important if you are participating in a live draft. Show up ready to draft. It’s just polite.
DO NOT AUTO DRAFT – Depending on the seriousness of the league, auto drafting may be permissible. However, you should check with the commissioner before auto drafting.
COMMIT TO THE END OF THE SEASON – I have played with managers who give up mid-season and its the worst. It is disrespectful to the rest of the group who have committed time and money to be a part of the league. Again, be aware of the league you are joining and their level of intensity. If you have second thoughts, join a league that is more casual.
DO NOT COLLUDE – Don’t give all your assets to a friend so they can win and share the pot with you. That’s cheating.
REFRAIN FROM LOPSIDED TRADES – Another DO NOT for fantasy is pestering league mates with horrible trade propositions. It is one thing to have a lapse of judgement and send a bad offer. It is another thing entirely to constantly send bad trades throughout the season. You will develop a stigma and nobody will trade with you.
RESPOND TO TRADES – Even if the trade is bad…still respond. I get it. Even if you think the trade is unworthy of even a response, still respond.
PAY YOUR DUES – People love playing for money. Yet for some reason hate paying their dues. Don’t make the commissioner hunt you down to pay. Just like any business entity you need to pay to play. Just because its with friends doesn’t mean the etiquette changes.
FANTASY FOOTBALL FOR BEGINNERS – FINAL THOUGHTS
Even if you are a complete and utter newbie, follow these tips and the chances are high that you will have a successfully competitive team. But the number one rule about fantasy football for beginners? HAVE FUN! That’s what it’s all about.
Now get out there and find yourself a league!
Let us know how it goes by emailing us at fantasyacademyinfo @gmail.com or message me on Twitter @FantasyRoberts. I’d love to hear how it goes!